February 25th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama camp slams Clinton team on controversial photo

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/25/art.obamasom.ap.jpg caption=" Obama's campaign accused the Clinton campaign of circulating this 2006 photo of Obama Monday. "](CNN) - Barack Obama’s campaign accused Hillary Clinton’s team Monday of circulating a photo of the Illinois senator donning traditional attire – clothing worn by area Muslims – as a goodwill gesture during an overseas trip.

In a statement, the Clinton campaign called the charge “an obvious and transparent attempt to distract” voters from serious issues – but did not issue a denial.

The picture, which appeared on the Drudge Report this morning, was attributed to sources within the Clinton campaign – although the Web site did not reveal how many, or who, might have received the photo.

In a statement, Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe, said Clinton’s campaign was engaged in “shameful, offensive fear-mongering,” though he did not point to any proof beyond the original item that appeared on Matt Drudge’s blog.

“This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire,” said Plouffe. “and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world."

Earlier this year, some Clinton volunteers left her campaign in those states after circulating e-mails that falsely claimed Barack Obama was a Muslim – an inaccurate rumor his campaign has worked hard to dispel - and suggesting that his drug use as a young man might make him vulnerable to Republican attacks were he to become the nominee.

Clinton’s campaign manager Maggie Williams responded to the photo controversy with a Monday morning statement that insisted the New York senator’s team “will not be distracted,” but did not directly address the substance of the allegation.

“Enough. If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. Hillary Clinton has worn the traditional clothing of countries she has visited and had those photos published widely,” said Williams.

“This is nothing more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they claim to decry. We will not be distracted.”

On a campaign conference call with reporters, Ret. Major Gen. Scott Gration, who traveled to Africa with Obama, said the photo showed that “he did what any great leader should do - he accepted the gift, accepted the hospitality, accepted that token of friendship."

UPDATE: On a conference call with reporters Monday, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson told reports that he had not seen the photo, that "I’m not aware that anyone in this campaign circulated it -- I don’t imagine that you have any independent reporting to suggest that we did."

Late Monday, the campaign sent out a memo in which Wolfson said he had not been aware of the release of the photo, and that it had not been sanctioned by the campaign -- but added that "We have over 700 people on this campaign and I’m not in a position to know what each one of them may or may not have done."

–CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
soundoff (575 Responses)
  1. bill

    this is hill-arious...she's doing about 10 desparate things per day at this rate...she's attacking so much, that every attack only has about 10 minutes to get any coverage, then it's on to the new one.

    keep digging the hole hillary, you prove more and more everyday what a fake, hypocritical, and insincere person you are...and that will not get you a single vote, so thank you for being you...

    February 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Nelson

    Wow. Too bad Hillary didn't put this amount of time and energy into her marriage.

    February 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Joe, NY

    HRC's campaign should be ashamed of themselves,is this the experience she claims to possess,engaging in petty politics,just to distract people from the real issues,she should bow her head in shame.She has mismanaged her campaign finances and is resorting to dirty tactics that will not bring out the best in the American people but play to the fears of people.
    Obam has run a dignified campaign and no matter what happens he will continue to have my respect. Should Hillary go on to win the nomination i believe we may well see another four years of the GOP in power.

    February 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. yemiray

    This attempt to blackmail Obama is shameful and evil

    February 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Timo Garcia

    i think a vote for obama is ultimately a vote for inevitable buyer's remorse that will come at a time when our one real chance has dropped out because she was misleadingly slandered to death for standing up and fighting for the democratic party in the 90's when nobody else had the cojones, under the label of so-called 'old politics.'


    February 25, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Scot

    Pretty pathetic attempt by Hilliary's campaign. Just shows how desparate they really are. Obama all the way!

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. Thomas For Hillary

    IT IS JUST A PICTURE!!! You can probably google and see it on the new. This all a ploy people, don't be fooled. It is just a picture, I mean come on, how can some of you be that gullible????? If you base you vote on a picture that shows how shallow you really are.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. Dustin

    The Clinton camp is unbelievable. She strikes back for his spreading flyers that are 100% accurate by floating this photo hoping to further fan the flames of the false emails her camp circulated? And this is how a leader reacts to criticism? These are the "Rovian Tactics" that she said Obama used.

    Hillary backers please defend this.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. Michael Conrad

    It's not that Obama is ashamed of the picture but that its release looks a lot like dirty politics. The Clinton campaign's purpose is to win this nomination. Anything it does is attempting to further that end. Though an impotent attempt, this does seem to be a desperate grasping at anything that may help her bid. And, pathetic though it is, if people believe he is Muslim, votes will swing away from him.

    If I didn't know that the photo was posted by Clinton's campaign, I wouldn't have thought twice about it.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Kelly

    I'm a woman, and all for the fact of having a woman president, but more important here are the FACTS that are appearing. Mrs. Clinton is showing increasingly more and more body language to indicate to me that she is quick to fly off the handle, become vindictive, make snide facial expressions, has an inability to withhold her EMOTIONS and to embellish things in a smear campaign....all of which equals MANIPULATION.

    That I am very concerned that this woman as president will use these manipulative tactics while running this country, if given a chance. She is presenting more and more EMOTIONAL as she seems to be trailing Obama, and I in fear that if she wins.....We all are in BIG trouble. I've voted republican all my life, but my vote will go out to Obama, totally out of fear that Mrs. Clinton might, even remotely, have a remote shot at winning the democratic nomination.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. lets be real here

    everyone with any type of sense knows what the Clinton camp is trying to do with this picture. This is sad.

    I expected this from the Republicans but not a fellow Democrat.

    I'm very disappointed.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Lou

    It is obvious that the HRC campaign is trying to play to our worst fears and particularly those of OH, RI, TX & VT but like all off their attacks to date this to shall fail because the electorate is far more intelligent than the HRC campaign gives credit. I totally agree with Gen. Scott Gration. I have had the priviledge to travel to many coutries on business and on occasion, don the traditional attire and take part in the culture. It was educational and it showed my willingness to participate with my hosts. I believe I represented my country properly as did Barack.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. Oberst - Chicago

    A picture's worth thousand words. Even if released due to dirty politics, how can we take a chance in the current environment. This guy's undoubtly sympathetic to the cause to some degree. You progressive fools have no idea, but once it hits the fan you run to the hawks to protect you.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. kathy

    I am so sick of Hillary and Bill and their tactics. if she can't win it fair and square then we don't need her. We had enough of these tactics from her and Bill before – It's everyone else's fault their theirs (hers) – I keep wondering why the Obama camp doesn't remind all of these young voters and Hispanic voters as to what she and Bill are all about. If she's the democratic choice, then my vote is going elsewhere. If she isn't the choice, she will go away leaving a really bad taste in everyone's mouth so there's no point in trying again in 4 or 8 years. She's counting on the young and hispanic votes because they don't know about their history. She is a desperate, desperate woman and the more desperate, nasty and whiney she gets the less respect i have for her. Is this how she's going to behave with leaders of the world when things don't go her way?

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. Wayne

    Acting like a true Karl Rove-ian move by the Clinton campaign, huh 🙂

    Interesting, Clinton Campaign.

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. Sue in Raleigh

    Matt Drudge? Well, that should say it all. This isn't a smear of Obama by the Clinton campaign. It is a smear of Hillary Clinton by Matt Drudge.

    And, I agree with Craig....is Obama ashamed of the photo or not? What's the big deal.

    (oh, he does look kind of goofy.)

    February 25, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. Chris

    Hey Tom Swift...I cannot wait for the Obama/McCain battle for the presidency. McCain has NO chance. A 73 year old hypocrite (Keating 5 ...Lobbyists dream candidate...wants to stay in Irag for 100 years...Is trying to wiggle his way out of public campaign money) versus a 46 year old who has 1,000,000 donations, the young people fired up, and will actually bring people together...

    Switch to Obama 08

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  18. Kelly

    This picture will not look good in Ohio people!

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  19. Dave

    Why so much anger on this photo. Obama is making a big case out of something that I think is miniscure. He should be proud that he donned the Somali clothing for the better of America. He was developing a good foreign policy. He is pure as snow. What could possibly demonize him. He doesn't look anything like Osama.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. John, N.H

    You Obama supports are just what you are called

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Alejandro Martinez

    How can Maggie Williams claim that HRC's act of putting out this picture with the obvious purpose of tainting Obama's image and him calling them (HRC) out on their shady politics, be his attempt to distract voters?

    The HRC is more desperate than ever and it is evident. They are in QUICKSAND and their every move is making her sink deeper and deeper.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Waaaiit a minute

    WOW! This woman will stop at NOTHING to win. I give her that much. She is a fighter. Though a fighter for obviously all the wrong reasons. After sitting next to the man and tell the world that she was proud to be running for president with him, she mocks him then pulls this off???? And you Hilary supporters actually are defending this??? Someone once said that every people has the leader that it deserves. Like when Bush won in 2004, if Hilary wins this election, we would surely got the leader that we deserve!

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. lansford

    I was encouraged earlier in your campaign by the civility which you exhibited, however, there seem to be a deliberate attempt to 'win at all cost' now.
    Because of this determined attempt at 'gutter politics', as a black man, I have lost all respect for you and your husband. I don't vote in your elections, but I will surely be discussing this new trait of yours, with my relatives who live in the U.S., and will be encouraging them to remember this come voting day. Shame on you.

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. dsw

    This is reminicent of the smear campaign with McCain and his adopted child- a shameful attempt by Camp Clinton- it will only backfire as have all the other attempts to divide and conquer. How dare she give a lecture about campaign tactics?!

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Ian

    This obviously proves once and for all that Obama is Muslim.

    Clinton '08

    February 25, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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